"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

My Photo
Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Monday, September 06, 2004

Government Interventionism in Ireland, Part 1

Ireland at the turn of the 20th century was poised for change. Most of Ireland’s inhabitants wanted to alter in some respect the nature of their relationship with Great Britain, which had been interfering in Irish affairs for more than 700 years. In 1801 the British government had even declared Ireland to be, constitutionally, a province of the United Kingdom, ruling the island directly from London. This sat well with the pro-British minority in the north.

By the end of the 19th century, however, the majority of the Irish, the Catholics, were no longer willing to be passive political minions of the British Empire. This had been demonstrated on no fewer than four occasions through attempts at organized rebellion over a period of less than 70 years. These were the United Irishman’s uprising in 1798, Robert Emmet’s rebellion in 1803, the 1848 rebellion of the Young Irelanders, and the Fenian Uprising of 1867.

All four insurrections failed in their intended goal — the political separation of Ireland from Great Britain — but they demonstrated a persistent willingness on the part of the Irish to resort to violence for political purposes, and, just as important, they were proof that the status quo would never be allowed to stand for long before further blood was shed over the question of who would control the political fate of the Irish people.

Since the 1880s, Liberal governments had been introducing “home rule” legislation in the House of Commons in hopes of placating separatist sentiments in Ireland. In fact, the only measurable effect of their efforts was to further polarize relations between Ireland’s Catholic majority, which wanted some degree of self-government but disagreed widely on the form, and the unionists, the pro-British Protestant minority concentrated mostly in the urban centers of Ulster. This polarization was largely unnecessary. Home rule, as foreseen by both the Liberals and the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), the only significant nationalist party, would have created nothing more than a glorified local government to run Ireland at the behest of the British crown.

Still, it was more than the unionists were prepared to accept, and the question of home rule soon became a political non-issue. The Liberal Party was wary of going head to head with empire-minded voters in England or radical Protestants in northeast Ireland.

Much as the Liberals may have wanted, the issue would nonetheless not go away. This was particularly clear after a pair of general elections in 1910 left the Liberals with a mere plurality of seats at Westminster, requiring that a coalition government be formed with the IPP’s 80 or so MPs to fashion a working majority in the House of Commons. The IPP was not going to enter a coalition without a promise of home rule. Caving in to more immediate political realities, the Liberal government finally set home rule to commence in 1914.

The effect of passing the Home Rule Act was to push Ireland to the brink of civil war. In January 1913 the Ulster Unionist Council set up the Ulster Volunteer Force, a private militia, to resist any attempts to make Ireland more Irish (or less British). In response, the Irish National Volunteers were formed in November to defend home rule. Brian Feeney, in his recent book Sinn Fein: A Hundred Turbulent Years, writes, “By summer 1914 both sets of Volunteers, north and south, had acquired weapons.” The British government was now in the uncomfortable position of having to mend fences between armed camps.

The trouble was that by 1914 the Protestant and Catholic peoples of Ireland were so completely at odds with one another that there was virtually no possibility of peacefully satisfying their common aspirations.

The question of governing Ireland had become a zero-sum game. Catholics were looking for any gesture from the British that signaled respect for their goal of greater autonomy from London. Protestants, on the other hand, were miles away from tolerating even the slightest compromise on Ireland’s political future. No matter that home rule was an innocuous measure, at worst; the unionists were not going to accept it, in any form, without violence.

Objections to home rule

What was it about home rule, a minimalist concession to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Ireland’s population, that drove Protestants to defy their government and contemplate plunging their country into internecine warfare to stop it?

Quite simply, home rule was viewed as the “thin end of the wedge,” a slippery slope that unionists feared could lead only to an Irish government. If home rule was nothing more than a token symbolic act to satisfy Catholics, it equally symbolized for the Protestant a step down the road towards Dublin rule.

Explanation of such obstinacy typically is presented in terms of Protestants’ fear of losing a centuries-old dominant position in Irish society, blind political loyalty to the British crown, and deeply felt religious bigotry. These factors admittedly should not be lightly discounted in understanding the conflict in Ireland.

Overlooked in such discussions, equally if not more important to understanding the motivations of the unionist culture, is the fact that the face of Irish separatism in 1914 was one of protectionism, socialism, theocratic decree, and cultural dominance. Those who comment on the history of Ireland’s civil unrest underrate the impact that face must have had on Protestant thinking.

Under a Dublin government, Protestants feared, free commerce would be stifled in a sea of authoritarian controls, government education policy would support Irish over British culture and the development and promotion of the Irish over the English language, and Catholicism over Protestantism — strong incentives for every class of Ulsterman to oppose even the slightest concession to nationalist desires.

Looking beyond the veneer of separatist views on the union, Protestants would have known that nationalist leaders ultimately wanted to create an Irish government powerful enough to control just about every major facet of public life, none of which would have worked out to the Protestants’ benefit.

Protestants may have been overly worried about the possibility of total Irish independence, but they were under no illusions about the outcome if such ever came to pass. Evidence of their considerable fear is seen in a commentary written by Ulster MP James Craig, in the Morning Post newspaper, in January 1911:

Neither Mr. Redmond [leader of the IPP] nor the English people has any conception of the deep- rooted determination of the sturdy men and women of Ulster [to resist] the encroachment on their civil and religious liberties that would naturally follow the establishment of a parliament in Dublin. [Emphasis added.]
A year earlier, unionist Walter Long gave a speech before the Ulster Unionist Council proclaiming that “home rule for Ireland would mean the loss of individual liberty, the absolute insecurity of property, and the negation of everything [unionists] cared for affecting the welfare of the country.” [Emphasis added.]

Nationalism and laissez faire

The timing of these developments should be evaluated in full context. In 1914, Britain, like the United States and other industrialized countries, was experiencing the tremendous material benefits of a century of laissez-faire economic policies. In Ireland, the most visible advantages of 19th-century capitalism could be seen in Ulster, where industries thrived and living standards soared, relative to the rest of the country. The Protestant businessmen of Ulster knew, from a century of evidence, that free trade and limited government were the keys to wealth and prosperity. Such men would have been strongly suspicious of government interference.

By contrast, the economic objectives of the nationalists were interventionist on the one end and totally socialist on the other. There was no room for the free market in the nationalist philosophy. If Protestants found the IPP’s hopes for an assembly with what Feeney calls “paltry powers” a worrisome prospect, then the fully articulated economic policies of prominent nationalist spokesmen must have been absolutely horrifying.

For example, Arthur Griffith, who founded an organization called Sinn Fein (“ourselves alone”) in 1905, wanted economic independence from Britain, preferably under a system of dual monarchy, and adopted the strongly nationalistic and protectionist views of German economist Friedrich List (1789–1846) accordingly. At Sinn Fein’s inaugural meeting, Griffith praised List for “brushing aside the fallacies of Adam Smith and his tribe, [and pointing] out that between the individual and humanity stands, and must continue to stand, a great fact — the nation.”

Griffith wanted an isolationist Ireland that would “maintain self-existence and independence by its own power and resources” alone. In his view, Irish industries would develop and thrive only if free trade was curtailed. He paid lip service to capitalism, stating that “ ;Capital and Labour … are essential and complementary to each other” rather than antagonistic, but with the proviso that “it is the duty of the organized nation to protect Labour, and to secure for it the profits of production, not a mere competitive wage.” Flowery tributes to the partnership of “Capital and Labour” aside, the redistributionist intention here is obvious.

Sounding the rallying cry for collectivism, Griffith called on the Irish people to “place our duty to our country before our personal interests, and live not each for himself but each for all.” Griffith longed for an Irish government that would boycott English goods, raise protective tariffs, subsidize agriculture, embark on massive public-works projects, raise an Irish merchant fleet, and institute a “Buy Irish” campaign. His Sinn Fein philosophy was very popular in intellectual circles.

At the “other end” of this economic spectrum was James Connolly, a popular and very radical nationalist and labor agitator who actually preferred another armed insurrection over politics to mold a new, socialist Ireland. (He would be executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Uprising.) Connolly formed the Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896 and later, in 1910, worked for the Socialist Party of Ireland. He was the Belfast organizer, later acting secretary general, of the General Workers Union (which would paralyze Dublin in a general strike in 1913), and, in 1914, commandant of the Irish Citizen Army, another private militia.

In “Socialism and Nationalism” (1897), published in the Irish magazine Shan Van Vocht, Connolly declared that “if the national movement of our day is not merely to re- enact the old sad tragedies of our past history, it must show itself capable of rising to the exigencies of the moment.”

If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country.… England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that Freedom whose cause you had betrayed. Nationalism without Socialism — without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of … common property…. — is only national recreancy. It would be tantamount to a public declaration that our oppressors had so far succeeded in inoculating us with their perverted conceptions of justice and morality that we had finally decided to accept those conceptions as our own, and no longer needed an alien army to force them upon us. [Emphasis added.]
As Feeney points out, “Belfast [was] the biggest shipyard in the world” at the turn of the 20th century.

The city also had the biggest ropeworks in the world. A thousand ancillary metal workshops and foundries banged and clanged away night and day across the city. Engineering firms … clattered non-stop to build and export machinery for factories all over the British Empire.
Against this backdrop, the socialistic and protectionist language of nationalist “economists” must have appeared as pure insanity to northern unionists.

Economic issues cannot be discounted for their importance in understanding unionist opposition to an Irish government. At the same time, other issues driving Protestant fears would prove even more divisive.

Under Sinn Fein’s proposal for dual monarchy, Britain and Ireland would remain wed in a “United Kingdom” under the British monarch, but governed by separate parliaments, effectively placing government of the island in the hands of its Irish Catholic majority. Catholicism, not Protestantism, would be the state religion. Protestants foresaw in this an end to Protestantism in Ireland. Adding fuel to this fire was the Ne Temere decree in 1908 which required that the children of “mixed marriages” be brought up as Catholics, a proposal the Vatican wanted enforced through pre-nuptial agreements. This helps explain the anti -Irish slogan of the time, “Home Rule is Rome Rule!”

Another area of grave concern to unionists was their “Britishness.” Culture in British -controlled Ireland was essentially anglicized. The Irish language and other vestiges of Gaelic ethnicity were virtually nonexistent under British rule. To counter this, the separatist movement emphasized rejuvenation of Irish culture. Irish nationalists wanted to create an Irish Volksgeist, a wave of popular opinion which would embrace “Irishness” in all its forms. Feeney writes,

By the end of the nineteenth century, [Irish separatists] demanded not only political independence, they sought to emphasise and develop Ireland’s distinctiveness or separateness from England in all respects — in sport, language, literature, culture and history.… Advanced nationalists wanted Ireland to be unapologetically, recognizably, even aggressively Irish, and to this end set about purging English influences from the country. [Emphasis added.]

Scott McPherson is a policy advisor at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Other President

Dick Cheney, backseat driver par excellence.

IN MOST presidential re-election campaigns people don't spare a second thought for the vice-presidential candidate. Nobody voted to re-elect Ronald Reagan because he had George Bush senior on the ticket, or Bill Clinton because he had Al Gore. But this year Americans ought to spare more than a second thought for the man who stepped onto the stage in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Dick Cheney growled out a speech that was reminiscent of General Secretary Andropov on a bad day. The audience loved him anyway. When he spoke of George Bush never seeking “a permission slip to defend the American people”, they burst into chants of “Four more years!”. Nobody expected lofty rhetoric from this particular vice-president. Mr Cheney's talent is not for the theatrics of power, but for the mechanics.

He is not only the most powerful vice-president in American history. He is also the most controversial, a man whose decisions have repeatedly given even loyal Republicans pause. Four more years of George W. means four more years of Bush-Cheney: the closest thing to a co-presidency America has ever seen.

For the past four years the two men have been inseparable. Most vice-presidents have to fight for time with their boss; Mr Cheney sees his several times a day. Most vice-presidents spend their days at state funerals; Mr Cheney, more than anyone else, picked the members of the current administration. Thereafter he helped to shape the administration's policies on everything from energy policy to the invasion of Iraq.

The Republicans have repeatedly reminded Americans this week that September 11th 2001 defined this administration. But who was in charge on that terrible day? It was Mr Cheney who took most of the key decisions—from hiding the president to authorising the shooting-down of suspicious aircraft—while Mr Bush was holed up in Nebraska.

September 11th was a break from Mr Cheney's normal low-key style. In general, he prefers to direct from behind rather than seize the wheel. From the first, he exploited his boss's penchant for focusing on the big picture in order to control the details. He packed the second tier of the administration with allies such as Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Luti and Stephen Hadley. And he created an axis of influence with Donald Rumsfeld, the man who had given him his first break in national politics, and who shares his no-nonsense view of the world.

Mr Cheney's acceptance speech at last put paid to lively rumours that Mr Bush was planning to dump him from the ticket in favour of somebody who appeals more to swing voters: John McCain, for example. Mr Cheney is clearly a drag on the ticket in purely electoral terms: the latest CNN/Gallup poll finds as many Americans disliking him as liking him. But the rumours, in the end, were hot air. Mr Cheney is so integral to the administration that to dump him would be the equivalent of decapitating it.

The vice-president's unique position raises a serious practical question: what happens if he has another serious heart attack? (He has already had four.) It also raises a serious political question: how well has Mr Cheney used the power he has amassed with such Machiavellian cunning?

In 2000 he was widely seen as the conservative movement's answer to Washington's legendary wise men, such as Dean Acheson and George Kennan. Nobody who studied Mr Cheney's biography, from his hard-right voting record in Congress to his patronage of conservative intellectuals (the famous Laffer curve was first sketched on his napkin), could doubt his ideological bent. But he was one of the most experienced politicians in Washington: the youngest White House chief of staff ever, a congressman for Wyoming and defence secretary. He was careful to wrap his conservatism in the mantle of common sense. Who better to restrain Mr Bush's more gung-ho Texan instincts?

Mr Cheney also brought to his job a sharp sense of how dangerous the world is. Thomas Hobbes used to remark that “fear and I were born twins”. The same can be said of Mr Cheney. As a congressman, he boasted that he never met a weapons system he didn't vote for; as defence secretary, he fiercely resisted pressure for a post-cold-war peace dividend. He tried instead to focus America's armed forces on “new sources of instability” such as terrorism and renegade regimes. This combination of a mastery of Washington bureaucracy and a Hobbesian view of the world should have been perfect for the post-September 11th world.

Ideology's dangers
But few people would now argue that Mr Cheney has lived up to his promise as a wise man. The biggest mistakes of this administration, from the blithe acceptance of soaring deficits to the insistence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, have Mr Cheney's fingerprints all over them. He resisted attempts to get both congressional and UN approval for the invasion of Iraq. He has repeatedly favoured secrecy and “executive privilege” over consultation and compromise.

Mr Cheney scored a few points in the administration's defence on Wednesday. He pointed out that the tax cuts had helped to reignite an economy that was sinking into recession. He argued that there was “a difference between leading a coalition of the many and submitting to the objections of a few”. But there are no excuses for swallowing Ahmed Chalabi's “intelligence” hook, line and sinker, nor for trampling over Congress.

The cumulative effect of all these mistakes not only suggests a worrying preference for ideology over common sense, but an arrogant indifference to the checks and balances that are the glory of the American constitution. During the Ford administration, the Secret Service gave Mr Cheney the codename “Backseat”. One of the big questions facing America is whether this particular backseat driver is taking his boss in the right direction.

Sep 2nd 2004
From The Economist print edition

Bogus ?Terrorist? Case Exposed (for the nth time)

Subject: Bogus ?Terrorist? Case Exposed (for the nth time)

Date: 9/2/04 7:16 AM PST
Author: R7Fel@aol.com

Report Scolds Terrorism Prosecutors
U.S. to Drop Convictions Against Trio in Detroit

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2004; Page A03

The Justice Department released a harshly critical review yesterday that shows that prosecutors failed to turn over dozens of pieces of evidence to defense attorneys in the first major terrorism trial after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and chronicles "a pattern of mistakes and oversights" so egregious that the government has agreed to abandon the terrorism portion of the case altogether.

A special attorney assigned to review the convictions of three alleged members of a terrorist sleeper cell in Detroit found that the prosecution withheld numerous e-mails, photographs, witness statements and other items that undercut the government's case and should have been turned over to the defense, according to a 60-page memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit late Tuesday and released yesterday.

The errors and possible misconduct were so rampant that there is "no reasonable prospect of winning" on appeal, according to the filing to U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen. As a result, prosecutors agreed to a defense request for a new trial and will pursue only document fraud charges against the three defendants, two of whom were convicted of terrorism charges last year.

The review by Craig S. Morford, a federal prosecutor in Cleveland, is particularly critical of the former lead prosecutor in the Detroit case, Richard Convertino, who, among other things, allegedly failed to turn over photographs to the defense and elicited testimony from witnesses that led the judge and other lawyers to believe they did not exist.

Convertino, who has been removed from the case and is the subject of an ongoing criminal probe, told investigators he does not recall the photos and has disputed other allegations against him, according to Morford's review.

"In its best light, the record would show that the prosecution committed a pattern of mistakes and oversights that deprived defendants of discoverable evidence . . . and created a record filled with misleading inferences that such material did not exist," the report says.

The admission of error by the Justice Department comes as the Bush administration is highlighting its anti-terrorism efforts at the Republican National Convention in New York. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft had previously hailed the Detroit prosecution as a major victory in the war on terrorism, and the case was listed as one of the department's "notable achievements" in a report to Congress in January.

Convertino, who has filed a lawsuit against Ashcroft and the Justice Department, declined to comment. His Washington attorney, William Sullivan, said Convertino is a "vigorous and principled prosecutor" who always had "the safety and protection of his community" in mind.

"Even if [Assistant U.S. Attorney] Convertino had knowledge of the materials characterized as being disclosable to the defense, those materials were insubstantial, cumulative and would not encourage the reasonable possibility that a different verdict would have resulted after trial," Sullivan said in a statement.

The Justice Department has secured a number of guilty pleas and convictions in high-profile terrorism cases over three years. But in recent months it lost an important case in which it accused an Idaho man of using the Internet to recruit and raise money for holy war abroad, and was embarrassed by the FBI's erroneous detention of an Oregon man -- a convert to Islam -- for involvement in the Madrid train bombings based on an inaccurate fingerprint match.

"It's just another in a long line of mishaps by this Justice Department in prosecuting the so-called war on terror," said I. Michael Greenberger, a Justice official in the Clinton administration who now heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland.

Justice spokesman Mark Corallo said Ashcroft's decision to assign Morford to review the case shows the department's willingness to examine its own shortcomings. "We stepped up to the plate and did the right thing in the interest of justice," he said.

Defense attorneys in the case did not return telephone calls yesterday.

In the first major terrorism trial since the Sept. 11 attacks, two defendants, Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi and Karim Koubriti, were convicted in June 2003 of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and document fraud, while a third man, Ahmed Hannan, was convicted of document fraud. A fourth defendant was acquitted.

The general prosecution theory was that the men were part of a fundamentalist "sleeper cell" who had been caught with materials indicating that they had been casing a U.S. air base in Turkey and a Jordanian hospital as possible targets of terrorist attacks.

But the report raises serious questions about the veracity of most of the key evidence and testimony at the heart of the case. It includes strong indications that a videotape and sketches portrayed as terrorist surveillance material may have been nothing more than tourist footage and innocent doodling. Prosecutors also failed to inform defense attorneys that many U.S., Turkish and Jordanian officials had doubts about various aspects of the case, the report said.

The report also raises doubts about the testimony of star prosecution witness Youssef Hmimssa, an admitted credit card fraud artist who alleged the defendants were Islamic fundamentalists involved in terrorist activities.

The central figure in the Morford probe is Convertino.

In one incident, Morford contends that Convertino "made a deliberate decision not to have the FBI take any notes" during debriefing sessions with Hmimssa to limit defense attorneys' ability to challenge his statements. Prosecutors in Detroit and at Justice Department headquarters argued against this unorthodox approach, the memo says.

In another instance, the report alleges that Convertino may have elicited "misleading testimony" from an FBI agent and others, leading Rosen and defense attorneys to believe that photographs that should have been turned over did not exist.

Keith Corbett, Convertino's supervisor and co-counsel, who also was removed from the case, told investigators that "he would not have participated" if he had known about much of the information that was not disclosed to defense attorneys. Corbett declined to comment yesterday.

Staff writer Allan Lengel contributed to this report.

Re: Bogus ?Terrorist? Case Exposed (for the nth time)
Date: 9/2/04 5:54 PM PST
Author: R7Fel

Federal judge dismisses terrorism charges against two men in Detroit

9/2/2004, 6:53 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) Â? Warning that the fight against terrorism must not trample on the Constitution, a federal judge on Thursday dismissed terrorism charges against two men convicted last year.

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen ordered the two, as well as a third man, to stand trial again on charges of document fraud.

The dismissal came at the request of the government after it admitted widespread prosecutorial misconduct. The case had been hailed by the Bush Administration as a victory in the war on terror but began unraveling last fall after the government acknowledged that evidence that could have helped the defense was improperly withheld.

"This case Â? and all of the issues that have been raised by it Â? has always stood against the backdrop of the Sept. 11 attacks upon our nation and in the continuing shadow of the threat of future terrorist attacks," Rosen wrote in Thursday's order. "Certainly, the legal front of the war on terrorism is a battle that must be fought and won in the courts, but it must be won in accordance with the rule of law."

Karim Koubriti, 26, and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 38, were convicted in June 2003 of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and to engage in fraud and misuse of visas and other documents. Ahmed Hannan, 36, was convicted of only the fraud charge, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 24, was acquitted.

The government's change of heart, outlined in a filing late Tuesday night, came after a monthslong court-ordered review of documents connected to the case. The Justice Department uncovered much more potentially exculpatory evidence that should have been given to the defense before trial, but was not.

For instance, prosecutors never revealed that there was no consensus within the government regarding a day planner found in the defendants' apartment. Prosecutors maintained the notebook contained casing sketches of potential terrorist targets. They did not reveal that some officials, including a CIA expert, disagreed, the government said.

Rosen said the prosecution's "understandable sense of mission and zeal to obtain a conviction" in the wake of the Sept. 11 "overcame not only its professional judgment, but its broader obligations to the justice system and the rule of law."

"It is an inescapable conclusion that the defendants' due process, confrontation and fair trial rights were violated," he wrote. "There is at least a reasonable probability that the jury's verdict would have been different had constitutional standards been met."

The defense team on Wednesday greeted the government's decision to drop the terrorism charges jubilantly, but said they believed the misconduct was severe enough to warrant a dismissal of the fraud charges as well.

Elmardoudi's attorney William Swor said Thursday he was not surprised by the judge's decision.

"Obviously, we're still going to pursue our claim that the charges should be dismissed, but we're also going to be prepared for trial," he said.

Rosen heaped praise on the government for its thorough post-trial review and for making what he said was likely a tough, but "legally and ethically correct decision."

U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, who led the post-trial review, said the judge's opinion contained "very important and profound" points.

"It's our job to pursue justice Â? that's what we do," he said. "We're called upon to do it in different ways and in different forms, and this is the toughest in many ways Â? those rare times when we have to address our own mistakes. But that's what justice calls for."

The judge said he personally reviewed not only the evidence brought forward by the government, but also all classified CIA materials concerning the case. Those materials "provide additional and substantial support for the conclusions reached in the government's filing," he said.

Rosen emphasized that it was not his role to assign blame for the misconduct, noting ongoing Justice Department investigations.

The government's filing put most of the blame on lead prosecutor Richard Convertino, who said through his lawyer Wednesday that he had done nothing wrong and was disappointed that the government was not standing by the terrorism convictions.


On the Net:

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (with link to judge's opinion): http://www.mied.uscourts.gov/index.html

Subject: Re: Bogus ?Terrorist? Case Exposed (for the nth time)
Date: 9/6/04 8:21 AM PST
Author: R7Fel

Dangerous Errors

Monday, September 6, 2004; Page A22

"Today's convictions send a clear message: The Department of Justice will work diligently to detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells in the United States and abroad."

SO SAID ATTORNEY General John D. Ashcroft on June 3, 2003, the day Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi were convicted in Detroit in the first major terrorism prosecution to follow the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Barely a year later, the department's work on the case looks far from diligent, and it is by no means clear that the government disrupted a terrorist cell. The lead prosecutor is facing a criminal investigation, and the evidence he presented in court has been so discredited that the Justice Department asked the court last week to overturn the convictions and dismiss the terrorism charges. U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen agreed that the government had "materially misled the Court, the jury and the defense [about] critical evidence that provided important foundations for the prosecution's case." Mr. Ashcroft, so quick to crow about a victory in court, now owes a candid, public explanation of what has happened.

The defendants, along with one other, were accused of being part of a sleeper cell of Islamic fundamentalists, collecting intelligence for possible attacks abroad and in the United States. Two were convicted of conspiracy to support terrorism and document fraud, one on only the lesser charge; one was acquitted. Now the department acknowledges that it "failed to disclose matters which, viewed collectively, were 'material' to the defense" and the information it withheld "significantly undermines the basis" of the most serious charges. In its 60-page filing, the department eviscerates its own case. Prosecutors withheld information impeaching their star witness's reliability, it says. A drawing said at trial to be a "casing" sketch did not correspond with photographs of the site it supposedly depicted -- photographs that were never disclosed. Prosecutors' characterization of another sketch, the government now says, was controversial within the government; it may have been an innocent doodle. A videotape said to be surveillance of possible targets may have been taken by Tunisian tourists. There is, quite simply, nothing solid left of the case.

The chief problem here appears to have been the lead prosecutor, Richard Convertino, whom the department yanked from the case after the allegations arose and whose conduct it is now investigating. Judge Rosen described him as having "simply ignored or avoided any evidence or information which contradicted or undermined" his belief in the defendants' guilt. Mr. Convertino has sued the department, alleging a smear, and his lawyer called the withheld materials "insubstantial" and said they would not have prompted a "reasonable possibility that a different verdict would have resulted after trial." But it is highly unusual for the Justice Department to scuttle its own case as it has here. It would be all the more extraordinary if the materials it withheld were not, in fact, important.

The Justice Department responded seriously to the problem, appointing a special attorney to clean up the mess. Its filing last week was comprehensive and candid, and Judge Rosen lavished praise on the new team for "vigorously pursuing and producing to the Court all possible evidence" related to the train wreck. But how did errors so fundamental go undiscovered for so long in such a high-profile case? Why were the department's counterterrorism officials not more closely supervising the work of prosecutors in the field? Why were red flags not raised when officials of different agencies -- as the department now reports -- became concerned that Mr. Convertino was interested only in analysis that supported his case? Mr. Ashcroft needs to answer these questions and make sure that future terrorism cases are not plagued by such dangerous errors again.

Witness to Genocide

Imagine that genocide were taking place -- thousands of children dying, women raped, men mowed down in groups -- just as the American political parties held their quadrennial conventions. Surely it would be a major subject of conversation and alarm as the nation's political elite debated their agendas for the coming four years.

No? No. Of course not. We all know that genocide is taking place, in the Darfur region of western Sudan, and you did not hear it discussed during eight nights of rousing oratory at two conventions.

Well, but be fair, you say; party conventions are hardly the place or time to talk about such depressing matters. Behind the scenes, the foreign policy mandarins of each party, the masters of "never again" rhetoric, must have been consumed by the issue. Right?

No again. In Boston and New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, the nonprofit membership organization of the foreign policy elite, held panel discussions on the central issues of the next four years. Ambassadors and Cabinet ministers mingled with professors and pundits. They congratulated each other on how foreign policy has moved, after many years on the periphery, to the heart of this presidential campaign. They discussed Iraq, terrorism, trade deficits, China, Korea, the Voice of America, European public opinion, port security . . . but not Darfur. A million people may die, tens of thousands already have, and -- nothing.

How can this be? One explanation would be that Americans (and Europeans, who were decently represented in the audiences of both panel discussions) just don't care all that much. The victims of Darfur are poor, black and far away. The issues are hard to understand. U.S. and European security is not at stake.

This was more or less George W. Bush's attitude when he was running for president in 2000 and said the Clinton administration had been right not to intervene to stop the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which some 800,000 people died. "That's an important continent," he said of Africa, "but there's got to be priorities. . . . We can't be all things to all people in the world."

A more charitable explanation would be that people care but that stopping genocide is not easy. Villages are being destroyed across an area the size of Texas. Sudan's air force and its proxy gangster militia can induce starvation simply by poisoning wells or covering them with sand. Sudan's government opposes and frustrates outside intervention. U.N. Security Council members such as China oppose anything that affronts Sudan's sovereignty.

But Darfur should be debated precisely because it raises difficult questions -- and because those questions aren't so different from the challenges that were posed by Iraq and Kosovo and that may arise again in Iran, or Burma, or Zimbabwe, or in many other spots. When is it legitimate to infringe on a nation's sovereignty to ensure global security or rescue an imperiled population? Who should perform those jobs? What if the United Nations says no?

France and Germany opposed President Bush's war in Iraq in part because the international community was not unified. Now U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is clear: An international rescue force is required. But still they hesitate. Why?

Sen. John F. Kerry criticized Bush for failing to conduct adequate diplomacy before waging war on Iraq. But on Friday, in an admirably tough statement on Darfur, he urged Bush to "insist on the triumph of our common humanity over least common denominator diplomatic compromises." So what are the rules? If the Security Council says no, will a rescue mission -- in violation of international law -- still be the right thing to do?

"Being a witness to genocide is not an option," Bush's ambassador at large for war-crimes issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, said in April, on the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. "Saving lives is a moral obligation of all nations and all individuals . . . we should always choose to act rather than hope that with time reason will prevail."

Did he mean it? The Bush administration seems to have learned at least one lesson from Rwanda: Do not let history record that you were indifferent as a genocide unfolded. Secretary of State Colin Powell has visited Darfur; the White House has pressed the Security Council for action. Republicans may have been mostly silent in New York, but if you scour the party platform you will find a condemnation of Sudan's government. The administration has sent a great deal of food. On the 10th anniversary of the Darfur genocide, no one will be able to say that Bush and his people took no notice.

But if there is such an anniversary -- if the genocide proceeds deliberately before us, even as we have all been warned and warned again -- what will it say about the Bush presidency? Well, he was very busy in the summer and fall of 2004, and Darfur is far away.

Fred Hiatt

Under Attack, Richard Perle Says Hollinger's Lord Black Misled Him

Last fall, as the board of Hollinger International prepared to oust its founding executive, Conrad M. Black, the director most protective and supportive of him turned to a friend and balked.

"This is a kangaroo court," a person recalled the director, Richard N. Perle, as saying in defense of Lord Black, who had been accused by investors of improperly siphoning millions of dollars to other companies he controlled.

But last week, Mr. Perle's view of Lord Black changed. Issuing his first public statements since being heavily criticized in an internal report for rubber-stamping transactions that company investigators say led to the plundering of the company, Mr. Perle now says he was duped by his friend and business colleague.

Mr. Perle, a top Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, wielded considerable influence in foreign-policy circles as recently as 2002 as an intellectual parent to the neoconservatives. He was named to the Hollinger board in 1994, joining other like-minded men selected by Lord Black, a self-made businessman from Canada who surrounded himself with conservative thinkers. He particularly did that at Hollinger, a global media company whose holdings at the time included The Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post, The Sunday and Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald.

But the relationship between the two men was particularly special, friends and Hollinger officials recall. Lord Black approved plans that ultimately earned Mr. Perle more than $5 million - including a bonus formula that rewarded Mr. Perle for the successful investments he placed on behalf of a subsidiary of Hollinger but did not subtract for the losers. Mr. Perle served on a three-member executive committee of the board headed by Lord Black. The two men socialized frequently and traveled together extensively on the company jet, once going to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Even so, by 2002, Lord Black was complaining in internal company messages about Mr. Perle.

Now, their relationship, which has come under scrutiny by federal regulators and investors, has decidedly changed.

In the face of federal investigations and a scathing internal report for Hollinger by Richard C. Breeden, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Perle has broken ranks and turned on Lord Black.

The report contends that Lord Black improperly took hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and associates - and that Mr. Perle was the enabler, approving some questionable transactions at the same time he was being heavily compensated at the direction of Lord Black. The report said that Mr. Perle told the committee he often signed documents without reading them, and it singled him out among the directors for conflicts of interest.

"With the notable exception of Perle, none of Hollinger's non-Black group directors derived any financial or other improper personal benefit from their service on Hollinger's board," the report said. "It is, of course, possible for a conflicted board member to act at least somewhat responsibly. As a conflicted executive committee member, however, Perle did not. Rather, his executive committee performance falls squarely into the 'head-in-the-sand' behavior that breaches a director's duty of good faith and renders him liable for damages."

From his vacation home in southern France late Friday, issuing the outlines of his legal defense for the first time, Mr. Perle said that he was misled.

"The special committee has concluded that Lord Black and other members of the Ravelston Management Group misled the directors of Hollinger, including me, concerning the scope of their compensation, the payment of noncompete payments and the related-party nature of several transactions," Mr. Perle said, referring to the holding company run by Lord Black that effectively controlled Hollinger. "As the report shows, critical information was either not revealed or obscured as matters were presented to the audit and executive committees and the full board of directors.

"I did not participate in or profit in any way from the management agreements, related-party transactions or noncompete payments at issue," the Perle statement added.

Mr. Perle's lawyer, Dennis Block, went further, saying that the Breeden report was libelous. "It is factually and legally inaccurate," Mr. Block said, declining to go into specific detail.

Both the Breeden report and people who know Lord Black and Mr. Perle describe a symbiotic relationship.

"Conrad Black, who I know well, thought Richard Perle was the font of foreign-policy wisdom," said Leslie H. Gelb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, who met Mr. Perle in the 1960's when both were aides to United States senators. Mr. Gelb said he came to know Lord Black at the council. "Once that happened, Black and Perle figured out how to work together to make more money."

For Mr. Perle, the Breeden report is the latest of several setbacks in both policy and business arenas.

Less than two years ago, he had forged a place for himself at the pinnacle of power where Washington policy-making and corporate money-making intersect.

He advised George W. Bush on foreign policy during his 2000 presidential campaign and went on to become chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential advisory board to the Defense Department. His protégés were placed in important administration jobs; he was on the boards of several start-up companies and advised others about how to deal with the administration. He was preparing to open a venture capital fund, Trireme, to make investments in industries related to defense and homeland security. Hollinger made an initial investment of $2.5 million in the fund, but at last accounting it had lost $1 million in value.

Now, Mr. Perle's position, both in the corporate world and in policy circles, has been shaken.

In the Hollinger case, regulators are preparing to seek an order barring him and Lord Black from serving on boards of public companies, and the Justice Department has opened an inquiry to examine whether any criminal laws were violated. The Breeden report said that because Mr. Perle was a "faithless fiduciary," the company would seek to compel him to return the $5.4 million in payments he received as a director and as head of Hollinger Digital, the subsidiary that invested in Internet and new media ventures.

In the last few months, Mr. Perle, 62, has also alienated former allies at the Pentagon for his continued defense of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi opposition leader who has recently come under suspicion of leaking important intelligence information to Iran. Mr. Perle was forced to step down from the Pentagon advisory board after disclosures about his plans to work for Global Crossing and his meeting with a Saudi businessman, Adnan Khashoggi.

Mr. Perle's friends say that he is the victim of unjustified attacks that are motivated more by policy vendettas than substance.

"It is not surprising that the attacks on Richard have accompanied his rise to influence," said Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Reagan administration. She first met Mr. Perle when the two were advising Senator Henry M. Jackson, a Washington Democrat and staunch conservative on foreign-policy matters. She emphasized that she knew nothing of his business dealings, but was speaking about the criticism Mr. Perle has encountered over his policy positions.

Other friends say they are confident that he will be vindicated.

"Over the years, endless accusations have been made against him," said Michael A. Ledeen, a friend since the 1970's and colleague of Mr. Perle's at the American Enterprise Institute. "All have proven false, and I'm certain this one will be as well."

But others who have known Mr. Perle over the years say that he has been a consummate risk taker in both his business dealings and in some of the foreign policies he advocated, and that he ultimately may have been lured by millions of dollars in compensation and benefits to put aside ethical considerations, as the Breeden report concluded.

"Richard has always been willing to take the highest risks, playing for the highest stakes on policy issues over the years and often winning, but this is also really a story of being seduced by money," said Mr. Gelb, a former official at the State and Defense departments and a former columnist at The New York Times. "People in the foreign policy world do not make a lot of money. They go to think tanks, government, academe, and generally get $125,000 to $150,000 a year. When you are touched by lightning and manage to get into the inner sanctum to make money, the opportunities are delicious."

Although friends of Lord Black and Mr. Perle describe a close relationship between the two, the Breeden report also suggests that the relationship was not always cordial.

According to the report, after Mr. Perle, without the authorization of Hollinger's board, signed a document on Dec. 25, 2002, that appeared to commit Hollinger to invest $25 million in his venture capital fund, Trireme, Lord Black sent an e-mail message to the president of Hollinger Digital, in which he wrote, "As I suspected, there is a good deal of nest-feathering being conducted by Richard which I don't object to other than that there was some attempt to disguise it behind a good deal of dissembling and obfuscation.

"My instinct told me that these two were trying to smoke one past us," Lord Black wrote, referring to Mr. Perle and an associate at Trireme.

"I think they have done a good job rummaging all this together, but they should treat us as insiders with our hands cupped as the money flows down, and not as outsiders pouring in the money," he continued.

According to the Breeden report, Mr. Perle signed the Dec. 25 document as "co-chairman, Hollinger Digital." But he told the special committee that he did not believe his signature would be binding and that he signed the document just as he was leaving for vacation in France, in anticipation of Lord Black's approval of the investment.

The report suggests in one passage that Lord Black ultimately agreed to permit Hollinger to make a $2.5 million investment in Trireme to get Mr. Perle to resign as head of Hollinger Digital, telling three top Hollinger executives by e-mail messages that he was "well aware of Richard's shortcomings" and another that he was "well aware of what a trimmer and a sharper Richard is at times."

In another e-mail message, sent to a Hollinger executive in early January 2003, he wrote: "I have been exposed to Richard's full repertoire of histrionics, cajolery and utilization of fine print. He hasn't been disingenuous exactly, but I understand how he finessed the Russians out of deployed missiles in exchange for noneventual deployment of half the number of missiles of unproven design."

In February 2002, according to the report, Lord Black sent a letter to Mr. Perle complaining that Hollinger had been receiving expenses from an American Express card for $1,000 to $6,000 a month "and there is no substantiation of any of the items which include a great many restaurants, groceries and other matters. This is not a system that conforms to the standards being imposed in every area of this company."

The report said it could not find a reply from Mr. Perle.

NY Times

Spy Case Renews Debate Over Pro-Israel Lobby's Ties to Pentagon

It began like most national security investigations, with a squad of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents surreptitiously tailing two men, noting where they went and whom they met. What was different about this case was that the surveillance subjects were lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and one of their contacts turned out to be a policy analyst at the Pentagon.

The ensuing criminal investigation into whether Aipac officials passed classified information from the Pentagon official to Israel has become one of the most byzantine counterintelligence stories in recent memory. So far, the Justice Department has not accused anyone of wrongdoing and no one has been arrested.

Aipac has dismissed the accusations as baseless, and Israel has denied conducting espionage operations in the United States.

Behind the scenes, however, the case has reignited a furious and long-running debate about the close relationship between Aipac, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, and a conservative group of Republican civilian officials at the defense department, who are in charge of the office that employs Lawrence A. Franklin, the Pentagon analyst.

Their hard-line policy views on Iraq, Iran and the rest of the Middle East have been controversial and influential within the Bush administration.

"They have no case,'' said Michael Ledeen, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a friend of Mr. Franklin. "If they have a case, why hasn't anybody been arrested or indicted?''

Nearly a dozen officials who have been briefed on the investigation said in interviews last week that the F.B.I. began the inquiry as a national security matter based on specific accusations that Aipac employees had been a conduit for secrets between Israel and the Pentagon. These officials said that the F.B.I., in consultation with the Justice Department, had established the necessary legal foundation required under the law before beginning the investigation.

A half dozen people sympathetic to Aipac and the civilian group at the defense department said they viewed the investigation in different terms, as a politically motivated attempt to discredit Aipac and the Pentagon group. Supporters of Aipac have said the organization is being dragged into an intelligence controversy largely because of its close ties to a Republican administration and the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Friends and associates of the civilian group at the Pentagon believe they are under assault by adversaries from within the intelligence community who have opposed them since before the war in Iraq. The Pentagon civilians, led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary for policy, were among the first in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to urge military action to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, an approach favored by Aipac and Israel.

Mr. Wolfowitz and Mr. Feith were part of a larger network of policy experts inside and out of the Bush administration who forcefully made the case that the war with Iraq was part of the larger fight against terrorism.

The Pentagon group circulated its own intelligence assessments, which have since been discredited by the Central Intelligence Agency and by the independent Sept. 11 commission, arguing that there was a terrorist alliance between the Hussein regime and Al Qaeda.

The group has also advocated that the Bush administration adopt a more aggressive policy toward Iran, and some of its members have quietly begun to argue for regime change in Tehran. The administration has not yet adopted that stance, however, and the Pentagon conservatives have been engaged in a debate with officials at the State Department and other agencies urging a more moderate approach to Iran.

To Israel, Iran represents a grave threat to its national security. Pushing the United States to adopt a tougher line on Tehran is one of its major foreign policy objectives, and Aipac has lobbied the Bush administration to support Israel's policies.

Mr. Franklin was an expert on Iran in the office of Mr. Feith and among the material he is suspected of turning over to Aipac is a draft presidential policy directive on Iran, which would have provided a glimpse at the Bush administration's early plans.

But skeptics of the case have said that the United States and Israel routinely share highly sensitive information on military and diplomatic matters under an officially sanctioned understanding. In addition, most of the contents of policy drafts affecting either country are well known to people outside the government who follow American-Israeli affairs.

As a result, some of Mr. Franklin's associates regard his efforts as an attempt to obtain Aipac's help to influence the Bush administration rather than an effort to provide Israel with information. They believe the case is the latest in a series of assaults by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, who they believe are determined to diminish the influence of conservative civilians at the Pentagon.

In their view, there have been other attempts to embarrass them. In May, American officials said that Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress and a longtime ally of the Pentagon conservatives, had told Iranian intelligence officials that the United States had broken Iran's communications codes.

The F.B.I. began a still-open investigation to determine who in the government had told Mr. Chalabi about the secret code-breaking operation. The investigation, which has included the use of polygraph examinations, has focused on Defense Department employees who both knew Mr. Chalabi and knew of the highly classified code-breaking operation.

The F.B.I.'s inquiry of the Chalabi leak may overlap with the Franklin case because some of the same Defense Department officials had access to information that was believed to be compromised.

But officials who have briefed on the case say they remain two separate inquiries being conducted by separate teams of investigators, one with jurisdiction over Iranian matters and one with jurisdiction over Israel issues.

The focus and direction of the Franklin investigation, which was publicly disclosed Aug. 27, remains unclear. The officials said the inquiry first focused on Aipac, but later became more intense after F.B.I. agents gathered evidence indicating that Aipac officials had obtained classified information from Mr. Franklin, which was turned over to Israel.

But it is unclear who, if anyone, is likely to be charged with wrongdoing and whether the government is more interested in Aipac, Mr. Franklin or the Israelis who may have received the classified material. Officials say Mr. Franklin has been cooperating with the F.B.I. since being confronted by agents several weeks ago.

Two officials at Aipac, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, have also been interviewed by the bureau.

"I know that this is part of a campaign against us,'' said Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon analyst who worked in a special-intelligence unit created by Mr. Feith after Sept. 11. Mr. Maloof lost his security clearances because of an investigation that he believed was unfair.

He now believes that Mr. Franklin is being unfairly targeted as well. "They are picking us off, one by one,'' Mr. Maloof said.

But leading critics of the Pentagon hard-liners have repeatedly argued that Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith and others have used the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to pursue issues that in some ways mirror the interests of Israel's conservative Likud government.

One piece of evidence repeatedly cited by the critics is a 1996 paper issued by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, calling for the toppling of Saddam Hussein in order to enhance Israeli security. Entitled "A Clean Break," the 1996 paper was intended to offer a foreign policy agenda for the new Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The paper argued: "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq - an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right - as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

Among those who signed the paper were Mr. Feith; David Wurmser, who later worked for Mr. Feith at the Pentagon and now works for Vice President Dick Cheney; and Richard Perle, a leading conservative who previously served as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside consultants to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In the Reagan administration, Mr. Feith served as Mr. Perle's deputy at the Pentagon.